- Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, chorale prelude for organ (Schübler Chorale No. 1), BWV 645 (BC K22)
Angelika Nebel's 2015 release on Hänssler Classic is a survey of piano transcriptions of works by J.S. Bach, which range from the time of Franz Liszt to the early 21st century. The names of many of the arrangers are unfamiliar today -- Eric Kuhlstrom, Ludwig Stark, Ernst Pauer, Theodor Szántò, W. Gillies Whittaker, William Murdoch, and Egon Petri aren't exactly household names -- and their levels of artistry and imagination vary from the literal to the fanciful, but all show a fascination with Bach's timeless music and the possibilities it suggests. The chief reason to transcribe Bach for keyboard is to make his pieces for other instruments available to pianists, following the example set by Liszt in the 19th century and Ferruccio Busoni in the 20th, while contemporaries like Nebel and Wagner Stefani D'Aragona Malheiro Prado continue the practice. Yet the temptation to assimilate Bach is great among musicians, and many of the more flamboyant arrangements may reflect a desire to bask in his reflected glory. Nebel plays with a strong sense of the purpose behind each transcription, and she communicates the feeling each arranger had for the originals, as well as Bach's original intentions, which always shine through. This album won't attract many early music purists, but general classical listeners will find it quite enjoyable.